USS Cumberland (1842) - Africa/Slave Trade Patrol

Africa/Slave Trade Patrol

From 1857–1859, she cruised on the coast of Africa as flagship of the African Squadron patrolling for the suppression of the slave trade. Like many U.S. Navy ships in Africa, Cumberland employed a number of Krooman (indigenous Africans who lived on the western coast) to serve as scouts, interpreters, and fishermen. The ship's surgeons had to deal with a number of issues, including an outbreak of smallpox.

Cumberland boarded several dozen merchant ships. Her crew almost seized one, the schooner Cortez, after shackles and known slave trading items had been found on the deck of the schooner, a slave trading holding pen had been spotted in the distance, the ship's papers were highly suspect, and the ship was far from any port. Cumberland's boarding officer, however, chose not seize the ship possibly realizing the legal difficulty of bringing slave traders to trial without overwhelming evidence. Cortez was later captured by HMS Arrow in 1858 off the coast of Cuba.

Otherwise, the ship served as the squadron's supply vessel providing supplies to the other three ships in the squadron, the sloops-of-war Dale, Vincennes, and Marion and served as roving diplomat along the three thousand mile coast line.

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